Volunteer End of Life Companions Team – Aintree University Hospital NHS
1st July 2020
I am nominating this team of volunteers for successfully establishing an innovative model to enhance the care of end of life patients at Aintree University Hospital. The volunteers are an experienced and dedicated group who have undergone training covering the principles of palliative care, symptom control, communication skills, clinical governance, spirituality and resilience. The service started on five wards in 2012, and has developed across all areas of the Trust seven days a week.
Volunteers sit with patients, hold their hands, listen to their requests and show understanding and compassion to the patient and their family. They also act as a liaison between the patient, family and the nursing staff, communicating any concerns in a timely and appropriate manner. The volunteer companionship service does not replace the essential medical and nursing care that patients require, but supplements the quality and quantity of support for patients and their families.
Being able to spend time sitting with a dying patient, and talking to them and their relatives, can be an enormous comfort and support at a challenging time. Knowing that a trained volunteer is with their loved one means an exhausted relative can get some rest. For those without any family with them, the presence of a volunteer ensures that a patient doesn’t have to die alone. Since its inception, this innovative volunteer service has been developed and shared across many other NHS organisations and has significantly enriched the overall care of patients at the end of their life.